City mulling bike sharing program
Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:05 am in News
Beach cruisers are already a common sight around campus, but a new initiative proposed by a member of the city council could make bikes a common sight all around the city.
The Los Angeles City Council and the Metropolitan Transit Authority are working on developing a bike-sharing program that would focus on USC and several other locations. The program‚Äôs aim is to provide L.A. residents with another option for transportation beyond driving.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre looking at the ‚Äėfirst mile-last mile‚Äô dilemma in L.A.,‚ÄĚ said Cris Liban, the Environmental Compliance and Services Department manager at MTA. ‚Äú[That] first mile to get on a bus stop and last mile where people need to go from the bus ‚ÄĒ it‚Äôs causing problems.‚ÄĚ
The program was first proposed by the MTA in 2008 but was put on the back burner because of a lack of funding. Now, City Councilwoman Jan Perry has brought the issue back into the spotlight, and the city‚Äôs Transportation Committee is looking into bike-sharing opportunities.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm looking at the model from Paris, and some other models,‚ÄĚ Perry said. ‚ÄúTo me, the model that may work best is very similar to the ZipCar [at USC]; something without a lot of infrastructure and downtime.‚ÄĚ
So far, Liban said, the idea has been a hard sell among potential advertisers.
‚ÄúFrom some of the discussions we‚Äôve had with advertisers, they‚Äôre not really warm and fuzzy about having it [in L.A.],‚ÄĚ Liban said.
Perry said she has discussed the possibility of running the program on a smaller scale as a more attractive option to investors.
‚ÄúMaybe just [implement the program] in the 9th District to start, and we‚Äôll show the rest of the city what we can do,‚ÄĚ Perry said. ‚ÄúFor some people the bicycle is a primary mode of transportation, so it gives us an opportunity here.‚ÄĚ
A similar program is already in place at the UC Irvine. There, a bike-sharing program called ZotWheels allows students to rent bikes for up to three hours. The program charges a $40 annual fee for unlimited use.
‚ÄúWe set out to create another alternative mode of transportation for students, faculty and staff,‚ÄĚ said Lynn Harris, a planning and project manager at UCI Parking and Transportation. ‚ÄúAll of our campuses are trying to reduce emissions and traffic.‚ÄĚ
Harris cited exercise and time-saving opportunities as other benefits of bike sharing, in addition to sustainability.
MTA plans to talk with the city‚Äôs Transportation Committee about possible stations in urban areas such as USC, Downtown, Koreatown and Hollywood.
‚ÄúWill this work in L.A.?‚ÄĚ Liban said. ‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt know.‚ÄĚ
Though plans for the program are still very tentative, some students said they would welcome a bike-sharing initiative near campus.
‚ÄúI think the program is a great idea, it‚Äôs been done in a couple [of] other cities, and I know it‚Äôs been successful,‚ÄĚ said Emily Smith, a senior majoring in business administration-cinema television. ‚ÄúL.A. has major transportation problems, so it could help out.‚ÄĚ